The Charlotte Bobcats have solid players in Gerald Henderson, D.J. Augustin and Ben Gordon, and they have players who will become solid in Bismack Biyombo and Kemba Walker.
They don’t have a star. They don’t have anybody who can lead them and lift them and, when nothing else works, save them. They need to parlay the second pick in Thursday’s NBA draft into a star.
I see two obvious candidates: Michael Kidd-Gilchrist and, after him, Bradley Beal.
I’ve written glowingly about Kidd-Gilchrist so many times that I feel like a member of the MKG fan club. I don’t join clubs. So I’ll be an honorary member.
Love his intensity, passion, defense, rebounding and athleticism. Love everything about him but his jump shot. A small forward out of Kentucky, Kidd-Gilchrist shoots jumpers the way some big men shoot free throws.
But he’s 18. He can learn to shoot. His relentless aggression and the zeal with which he goes to the basket can’t be taught.
Those qualities can, however, be transferred. Kidd-Gilchrist would be Charlotte’s best player. If the team’s best player works as hard as he does, how do lesser players offer anything less?
Bradley Beal will be a star. A guard out of Florida, the man can shoot, score and rebound.
I fear that Charlotte’s trade for guard Ben Gordon Tuesday reduces the likelihood that the Bobcats will consider Beal.
Thomas Robinson is the safest pick in the draft. He’s powerful and he runs and rebounds and he looks like an adult.
I’ll be shocked if Robinson, a power forward out of Kansas, is anything less than solid. I’ll be more shocked if he ever becomes a star.
If the Bobcats keep the No. 2 pick, they can’t invest it on North Carolina small forward Harrison Barnes. You should know that. I’m certain they do.
Trading down is risky. One very good NBA player is better than two good players, one good NBA player better than two solid ones.
Yet if the Bobcats do acquire a mid first-round pick, there is an intriguing candidate. He’s Kentucky forward Terrence Jones.
Jones is 6-9 and 252 pounds. He might be a power forward and he might be a small forward. As late as he will be selected – probably in the teens but perhaps even in the 20s – he has the talent to become a star.
The Bobcats have the first pick in the second round, and Vanderbilt’s Festus Ezeli probably will be there. Not only will he be the best player in NBA history named Festus, he will contribute immediately.
Think of Ezeli, who is 6-11 and weighs 264 pounds, as a goalie. He’ll discourage opponents from treating the rim as if they have a deed to it.
Ezeli scored 17 points in Vanderbilt’s 71-64 upset of Kentucky last season. That was on nine field goal attempts. He added six rebounds.
Anthony Davis, who will be the first player selected Thursday, scored 12 points and added 10 rebounds.
I hear too often that after Davis there won’t be stars in Thursday’s draft.
If that’s true, all the Bobcats have to do is find somebody who plays like one.